Chelsea have finally secured the services of Ben Chilwell. Who is he and what will he offer Frank Lampard’s side in the years to come?
The Englishman has been linked to Chelsea for a few months, dating back long before the lockdown period. Frank Lampard has been after a left back ever since the position was exploited on many occasions last season. Ben Chilwell finally fills that need.
What will he offer the club from SW6? Why was the boss so eager to land him?
Born in Milton Keynes, he joined the East Midlands club in 2009 when he was just 13 years old. His career in the youth ranks lasted up until 2015. He made 28 appearances in the Premier League 2, the under-23s level. This competition is for category one academies, which his old side were.
Making his professional debut five years ago against Hull City in the Carabao Cup, The Foxes lost on penalties after initially drawing 1-1 after extra time.
“Chilly” moved to Huddersfield Town on loan in November of 2015, one month after his first team debut. He made eight appearances. He told 90min, a British publication, that the brief spell under David Wagner helped him develop into the player he is today.
After returning to the East Midlands in January 2016, he made his Premier League debut on Boxing day of the same year. It was success all round after beating Everton 2-0 at The King Power.
His first consistent run in the side came in the 2016/2017 season, one year after Leicester won the league against all odds. He made 21 appearances in all competitions, two in the Champions League.
The following season, under Craig Shakespeare and Claude Puel, Chilwell made 32 outings in blue. He was forever improving on the left flank after he’d emerged as one of England’s latest talents.
He made two assists in this campaign, both coming in the topflight of English football. They came in games against West Bromwich Albion and Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 2017/2018 season was consistent for the number three. He played all but two games in the Premier League. The arrival of Brendan Rodgers impacted Chilwell; the former Celtic boss had helped the progression of Raheem Sterling whilst at Liverpool.
The most recent campaign is when the 23-year-old really caught the eye. He was involved in Rodgers’ side best form of the season. They won eight league games in a row between October to December, Chilwell was involved in seven of those games.
Despite being known for bombing forward and being an ever present across the whole left hand side, his defensive duties were questioned post lockdown. He did not feature in Leicester’s final five games in the league, a period in which they won just one. The drop off in form meant The Foxes missed out on Champions League qualification after being inside the top three for most of the season.
Ironically, he scored against Chelsea at The King Power in February in the 2-2 draw.
So why was the gaffer so keen?
The club legend, Super Frank, has been after Chilwell for a while. He was the manager’s number one target at left back. This was made clear after he landed his signature.
Born just 57 miles from Fulham Road, the street where Stamford Bridge lies, Chilwell will provide an outlet for Chelsea on the left hand side. He is best when going forward. His three goals and four assists mean he adds goal contributions to his game. He grabbed one goal and two assists in Leicester’s famous 0-9 win away at Southampton in October.
Despite being known for a lack of concentration and switching off when on the back foot, Chilwell more notably caught the headlines post lockdown when he rocketed one in the top corner against Watford at Vicarage Road.
The fact that he is Premier League proven is a huge pull too. This means he can slot straight in. Chelsea are in a period of transition; this means they need proven players to fill the squad whilst the new foreign imports settle to their new surroundings.
His age is a benefiting factor. Since the arrival of Lampard in 2019, well, his return, his impact on young players has been admiring. His sides have been filled with players under the age of 24. This includes many academy graduates such as Tammy Abraham, who finished top goal scorer, and Mason mount, who played the most minutes for the club last season.
With the deal finally over the line, the homegrown talent could be Chelsea’s left back for years to come. The position has been heavily occupied by Marcos Alonso in recent years, but he is more suited to a wingback. The Spaniard’s most successful period came in a 3-4-3 system under Antonio Conte in the 2016/2017 title winning season.
Chilwell could be the club’s first long term left back since the great Ashley Cole. The iconic number three spoke about his counterpart on talkSPORT in December, stating he would love to see him at the club. His wish has now come true.
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